Books for sharing with babies and toddlers

Published on: 24 June 2015 Author: Nicola Bird

It's never too early to pick up a book and read with your children. It might sound silly, but even a tiny baby can get a lot out of sharing a book with their favourite people. That's why at Ladybird we're passionate about creating books perfect for every child - from the littlest of baby bookworms to chatty, busy toddlers and beyond.

Newborns are trying to make sense of the fuzzy world around them; so showing them colourful, soft cloth books is an ideal way to stimulate their developing senses without any sharp edges to get in the way. Board books with bold, bright images are also excellent for capturing a very young baby's attention, as up until three months old they can only see high-contrast colours such as black, white, red and yellow. The Baby Touch First Focus range combines very high-contrast colours, shapes and patterns with extra elements like crinkly pages and mirrors to really appeal to the youngest of babies.

Baby Touch - Busy Baby

Older babies who are learning to reach out and grab will enjoy sturdy board books with interactive elements such as flaps, touch-and-feels areas, sound buttons and peepo holes that they can physically play with. Attempting to touch a particular part of a book is great for developing hand-eye coordination and exploring their senses - 'if I touch the lion's head, it feels soft!'

In our Baby Touch series, we like to include simple questions for you to ask your baby, snippets of rhyme, things to count or a game to play (such as peekaboo or clap hands) rather than a linear story that runs across the pages from beginning to end. This can be useful for parents if they are less confident in using books with babies, as there are helpful cues for when to say things such as 'peekaboo!', 'who's there?' or 'what noise does a cat make?'. Encouraging your older baby to help turn the pages as well and asking her to point out animals or objects she recognises also makes it a fun interactive experience to share.

Baby Touch - Busy Baby

As your child grows, he or she will soon be able to name colours, vehicles, animals, household objects and more, and talking about the story and pictures will give them a real sense of involvement and pride in 'reading' a book. From 18 months or so, children will also start to develop their own preferences. Some may love noisy sound books, others anything with dinosaurs or diggers in. Ladybird's Toddler Touch series is great for this age group. It builds upon the interactive elements of the Baby Touch books but has more going on for an older, more dextrous child to explore. There are finger trails to follow, smaller, more intricate touch and feel areas to find and touch, more flaps to find and lift, and detailed pictures to talk about with lots of familiar things from a child's world.

Young children have short attention spans, so five to 10 minutes of reading with them can be plenty of time. We recommend choosing books with lots of detailed, interesting pictures to inspire conversations and questions from curious minds, and to help you talk to your child about what they can see on the page. Books with lots of rhythm and rhyme in are also fantastic as your child will soon become familiar with what's coming next and will love joining in! Rhyme plays a major part in speech development as it helps children understand the pattern and rhythm of speech - how it works and fits together.

All children learn and develop at a different rate, but by sharing a wide range of books and reading out loud to your child as much as you can, you're showing them how books and reading are important and, crucially, fun!